The Five Stages of a Night Out at Rhythm & Vine

Like any true Fort Lauderdale basic, I have a deep, almost holy appreciation for a good Friday night happy hour. Days are hot, weeks long, and the thirst so real in this wonderful city — which is why when I find a well-lit, trendily decorated astroturf patio wherein I can get tanked on vodka sodas with my fellow SoFlo ladies and gents, I don’t take it for granted.

Rhythm & Vine isn’t your typical one-and-done type of bar. If I've learned anything since the buzzy neighborhood beer garden opened last year, it's that there’s a process to getting your drink on at this homey spot. Especially if you're rolling in during daylight hours, that first tequila shot already settled into the back of your mind, it's best to be prepared for the ride.

Here are the five stages of a night out at Rhythm & Vine.

Stage 1: Happy Hour
Sun's out and lighting up your smiling face perfectly (selfies, you think) as you pass the polite bouncer your ID. Strolling into the backyard, you eyeball the light crowd, deciding whether to camp out on the throw pillows in the back corner or get your Jenga on at the picnic tables. It's a vital choice, akin to strategizing the coolest spot in the middle school cafeteria. Half the people you know are going to drop in over the next hour, and where you post up for those first few drinks will help set the tone.

After you and your squad (or casual work buddy — this is still stage 1) stake your claim, it’s time to grab a beer, maybe some tacos from the food truck, and then get to chatting about the night's plans. Should you head home after happy hour and stay low-key? Who wants to go out tonight? It feels like the world is your oyster and life is good.

Stage 2: Backyard Gets Busy
By now, the sun has almost set and grabbing a drink from the trailer bar is becoming a slight mission. Is string lighting really that flattering, or are a lot more hot people starting to show up? You begin to sense your cocktail buzz setting in, but the feeling is complicated by all the damn fans blowing air in your face and whipping your hair into your mouth. You’re trying to tell the cute yachtie you just met about your favorite local dance spots, but get tripped up after suddenly realizing you’ve been talking at him ten decibels above the normal level.

It’s time for shots. The crowd is officially too big for everyone to hit the bar together, so you fly solo and come back with the party favors — a handful of little square-shaped plastic cups filled with booze. It's always bewildered you — why the square shape? But you're trying not to let that slow you down. Cheers!

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